Remember all that lovely ricotta I taught you to make last week? If you missed it go here and check it out. This recipe is best made with your own yummy homemade ricotta. Add a little extra salt to the milk as it is heating up as you will be using it in a savory recipe. I would say 1 to 1 1/2 tsp.
This was a tasty Sunday night dinner I lovingly made for my sister and brother-in-law. I threw this together on the fly so I hope I have remembered everything I did. It was oh so very good and made excellent leftovers.
Sausage, ricotta and spinach stuffed shells (serves five to six depending on how hungry the boys are)
25 jumbo shells (this is more than you need but I always make extra to account for broken shells)
1 lb package of Italian sausage (mild or hot your choice)
3 cups baby spinach
1 recipe homemade ricotta or roughly 4 cups ricotta
4 tbs butter
1/4 cup flour
2 cups milk
2 tsp kosher salt
2 tsp garlic powder
fresh ground black pepper
fresh ground nutmeg (don’t argue with me on this one. Get a whole nutmeg and a microplane. The powdered stuff is yucky)
Pasta: Cook the shells according to the package. Make sure the water is plenty salty. Drain, rinse.
Filling: Meanwhile brown the sausage over medium high heat in a large pan. Break it up in to little pieces as it cooks. Drain the oil. Put in a large bowl. Return the dirty pan to stove over low heat. Throw in the spinach, toss to coat with the leftover oil. Cover and leave over low heat for 2-3 minutes. Once completely wilted add to the same bowl as the sausage. Mix the sausage, half the ricotta, spinach, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp garlic powder, and some fresh ground pepper in a large bowl.
Sauce: In a large sauce pan (or the pot you boiled the noodles in or the pan you made the sausage in if you want to dirty fewer pots) melt the butter over medium high heat. Once completely melted add all the flour and whisk until smooth. Slowly add the milk a little at a time whisking constantly to avoid lumps. Once the sauce reaches a batter like consistency you can add the rest of the milk- all while continually whisking. Add 1 tsp garlic powder, 1 tsp salt, about 1/8 tsp nutmeg, and a few grinds of black pepper. Allow to boil and as it does it will thicken. Remove from heat and mix in the rest of the ricotta. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.
Assemble: Preheat oven to 350. Reserve about 1/2 cup of the sauce and pour the rest in the bottom of a large baking dish. Take a shell, scoop about 1 tablespoon of filling in to the shell, then nest it in to the sauce seam side up. Repeat till you are out of shells, filling, or both. Dollop a spoonful of the reserved sauce over each shell. Bake for 30 minutes. Turn on broiler, move dish under broiler, and let brown for 2-3 minutes.
Ps. There is still plenty of time to enter my giveaway for a bag of teff. Go here to see how to enter (and learn what the heck teff is).